How to choose the right cartridge

Con­fused by all the ter­mi­nol­ogy and hype which sur­rounds car­tridges? There’s no need to be. The best way is to keep it sim­ple, says Alas­tair Phillips.

Shooting Gazette - - High-Seat hunting -

and is there­fore un­likely to present any is­sues when us­ing stan­dard car­tridges. How­ever, if you are think­ing of us­ing heavy/mag­num loads or steel shot it is vi­tal to check your shot­gun is suit­able for th­ese. If in any doubt, con­sult the man­u­fac­turer or a gun­smith.

chang­ing through the sea­son

Over the last few decades there have been ma­jor ad­vances in cartridge tech­nol­ogy, in terms of the re­li­a­bil­ity and per­for­mance of primers and pow­ders, the hard­ness and uni­for­mity of shot, the phys­i­cal con­sis­tency and per­for­mance of tra­di­tional pa­per and plas­tic cartridge cases, and the re­li­a­bil­ity and uni­for­mity of fi­bre or plas­tic wads.

The weight of shot in the cartridge, the shot load, is ex­pressed in grams, in the case of a 12 bore, for ex­am­ple, the most com­mon loads be­ing 28g, 30g, 32g or 36g. The rea­son for us­ing heav­ier shot loads is to main­tain pat­tern den­sity as the dis­tance to the tar­get in­creases, pro­vid­ing enough strikes to en­sure a clean kill. The rea­son for us­ing larger shot is to main­tain its ki­netic en­ergy which re­sults in more de­pend­able kills and min­imises the num­ber of winged birds.

From early Oc­to­ber I use 30g No.6 shot loads which gen­er­ate a denser pat­tern and are more ef­fec­tive on stronger, heav­ily-feath­ered birds that have more mus­cle and fly higher. Then from mid-novem­ber I favour 32g of No.6 shot, again be­cause birds are stronger and more el­e­vated. Later in the sea­son some favour No. 5 shot

“There is no point in us­ing a cartridge which kicks like a mule.”

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